Recovery of bodies after the Titanic disaster
When Titanic sank on 15th April 1912, 1496 people lost their lives. As Carpathia the rescue ship sailed away from the wreck site later on in the day, all the bodies of Titanicís victims remaining in the sea were left behind in the Atlantic Ocean; only four were buried at sea by the Carpathia, no bodies were taken to New York by Carpathia.
Soon after the disaster, the White Star Line contracted the Commercial Cable Companyís CS Mackey-Bennet to undertake the very unpleasant task of recovering the bodies of those who died as a result of the sinking. The Mackey-Bennet, under the command of Frederick Harold Larnder, sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on Wednesday 17th April, a week after Titanic had started her maiden voyage from Southampton. The Mackay-Bennett was loaded with ice, coffins, embalming supplies and what was needed for the task.
The recovery of the bodies began on the morning of 21st April. In total the Mackay Bennet recovered 306 bodies from the sea. Of those, 116 were buried at sea. The rest were taken to Halifax Ė first class passengers in coffins and second and third class passengers and crew members in canvas bags.
A second ship, the Western Unionís Minia, commanded by William George Squares de Carteret left Halifax for the wreck site on 22nd April 1912. After searching for a week, Minia returned to Halifax with only 15 Titanic victims aboard, having found 17, but burying two at sea.
The next ship contracted by the White Star Line to recover bodies was the Montmagny, belonging to the Canadian government, under the command of Peter Crerar Johnson and FranÁois-Xavier Pouliot. Montmagny headed to the wreck site from Halifax on 6th May 1912. With unfavourable weather conditions, they recovered only four bodies, three of which were taken to Nova Scotia, and the other person buried at sea.
The final ship to be contracted by the White Star Line to search for and recover bodies was the Bowring Brothersí Algerine, which sailed, under the command of John Jackman, on 16th May 1912. Despite searching for three weeks, only one body was found, that of Saloon Steward James McGrady. He was taken to Canada, and was buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax.
On 13th May 1912, White Star Lineís Oceanic discovered Titanicís Lifeboat A abandoned in the ocean, a collapsible lifeboat which had floated of Titanic as she sunk. Aboard were three bodies that had been left behind when those who survived the night, in terrible conditions, aboard Lifeboat A had been rescued by another Lifeboat. The testimonyís given by survivors confirm they were dead when Lifeboat A was abandoned. The people who died in the boat were first class passenger Thomson Beattie and two members of Titanicís crew. They were all buried at sea from the lifeboat.
The body of Saloon Steward William Frederick Cheverton was the last to have been recovered, he was found a ship called Ilford in June 1912. His body was buried at sea.
In total 333 bodies were recovered in the weeks/months after Carpathia had sailed away from the site. Of those taken to Halifax, 121 were buried there at Fairview Lawn Cemetery.